Interview with Alex from Zeromancer, 13.02.2009 .[ phoner ]

The fans of the Norwegian Synth-Rock-Band Zeromancer had to be patient for a long time. For five years there hasn’t been any new album at all. But in this year 2009 the long waiting finally has an end. Since Friday the 13th there`s the fourth studio album “Sinners International” from Zeromancer out in stores and soon the guys will be touring again as well. On the release day we got a call from Norway by singer Alex and we talked about the new album and the tour.


Lea: Hi Alex, how are you doing? Drowning in snow over there?
Alex: Iīm fine, thanks. Yeah, more or less we`re drowning in snow. Well, it hasn`t been snowing for a couple of days now, but it`s quite a lot, more than normal. We havenīt had so much snow since the 90ies. Itīs pretty white here. (laughs) I like it when it snows around Christmas, but now Iīm just looking forward to Spring.


Lea: Itīs Friday the 13th and your new album “Sinners International” will be released today. Are you superstitious?
Alex: Well, not really. 13 is my lucky number. (laughs) I`m not superstitious.


Lea: The release of the new album was announced for 2007 and then 2008 first. Now it`s 2009. Why did we have to wait so long for the album?
Alex: First of all we recorded, mixed and did everything by ourselves on this album. The whole process split up a little bit because of the reunion of our previous band [Seigman] and we also wanted to finish the album completely before signing with the new label. That took eight extra months. The actual recording process didn`t take that long. Everything was just split up throughout the two years and that made it taking longer than expected.


Lea: Where do you see the advantages and disadvantages of self-producing?
Alex: Well, the advantage is that you have absolute and total control. But itīs also good to have a producer, you know, somebody from the outside, so that you can exchange experiences and push the limits. But we like to be in control and do what we like to do. We know how to do it and weīve got the skills to do it. That`s why we decided to do the album by ourselves.


Lea: If I`m right, Kim is responsible for your lyrics. Can we find a redline throughout the whole album? It seems there is a lot of love and sex involved…
Alex: Yeah, it reflects a lot what we`ve been or Kim has been through and what all the people are experiencing. And when he writes lyrics, he knows that Iīm gonna sing them. Kim and me know each others pretty well. Weīve been knowing each others for 18 years now. Itīs really easy for me to adapt to his lyrics, cos lots of them are about what I experience as well.


Lea: So you can identify yourself with the songtexts?
Alex: Definitely, it`s no problem. And I have to do that! As a singer I have to identify myself with them, cos otherwise it would be wrong to sing them.


Lea: Don`t you have to be some kinda actor in doing that here and then?
Alex: Not really. I pretend they`re my lyrics when I sing them. I adapt to the lyrics and make them being my own. We`ve been working closely for so many years, so Kim knows me pretty much. He writes lyrics with me in his head. (laughs)


Lea: “Sinners International” is influenced by a religious cult called The Family International. Where else does the band usually get its inspiration from?
Alex: From a lot of things. Weīve been travelling a lot, touring a lot, you meet thousands of different people, wonderful people, scary people, you just meet all types. And when you travel and see different cultures, thereīs a lot of things to get inspired from. Of course personal things inspire as well.


Lea: Also the nature side?
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Kim used to travel a lot as well. He likes to go away to get some inspirations for lyrics – to America, to Asia. He likes to travel. He thinks better when heīs moving, on the plane for example, and travelling somewhere.


Lea: I know that you lived in America for a while. But where would you like to have a second flat nowadays?
Alex: That is difficult. (laughs) Some place where it is warm and where I can see the ocean. Some island would be nice where I can see the sea and have good food. I just love the ocean.


Lea: Norway is also surrounded by the sea…
Alex: Oh yeah, absolutely, but itīs just a little bit cold sometimes. Okay, we have four seasons, but the summer season is the shortest one.


Lea: How did this connection with The Family International actually come about? At the time when you were living in America?
Alex: Oh no, the whole thing is actually up to The Swans-album “Children Of God” which was their name before it changed into The Family International. Thatīs where the whole inspirations started. But when we lived in LA, we lived close to the Scientology-Celebrity-Centre. We lived in an old hotel that was rebuilt for apartments and we used to have a barbecue on the roof. And from the roof we could see down into the backyard of the Scientology-Celebrity-Centre. They thought we were spying on them all the time and they used to call the police. Okay, it kind of started in LA as well. I wonder, how people can do stuff that is so extreme. But on the other hand for some weird reason it`s really fascinating as well. Itīs really fascinating how people can be in these cults and go to the extremes sometimes.


Lea: Ever thought about moving back to LA?
Alex: I miss LA, I really do, and I really enjoyed working in LA, but for the normal weekdays, for the normal days with the family, I wouldnīt live in LA. But at that time it was perfect when we were all alone and singles and we could just work on the band. It was a perfect place to be.


Lea: How do the cover of the album and the title “Sinners International” fit together?
Alex: Itīs a little bit different artwork this time, but it`s more or less symbolic, the artwork, and we were thinking about the title as well. The bleeding out of the ear…itīs just a symbolic artwork for the album this time.

Lea: Did you have a special graphic designer for that?
Alex: Yeah, we had one. But we had different designers for every album.

Lea: In the song “Two Skulls” you`re singing the lines “two skulls one soul”. Do you actually have a soulmate or ever considered someone being your soulmate?
Alex: Oh, definitely. But nothing more. (laughs) Then it starts digging too deep.


Lea: The last song “Ammonite” ends with some Norwegian lines. What do they mean? My Norwegian is not that perfect…
Alex: (laughs) That`s totally understandable. There are just 4.5 million people living here, so there`s no reason to learn Norwegian. Well, some words are the same as in German, but referring to the song “Ammonite”: Kim actually had this idea to end the song with some Norwegian lyric. First I thought it wasn`t a good idea. I kind of disliked it a little bit. But then he sent me some samples, some demos and he was singing a few bits and pieces in the end. I really liked that, so we start working with that. It was just a perfect ending switching over to Norwegian and get that final statement for the album. But what it means is for everybody to find out with a dictionary. (laughter)


Lea: Opelwerk, Doppelgä you know some more German words?
Alex: Yeah, but just the ones to get in trouble with. (laughs) Lorry`s German is really good. I just know the bad words and I won`t say them.

Lea: How would you continue the sentence “Music is…” then?
Alex: Music is addictive.

Lea: In March and April of this year you will be back on the road here in Germany. What can we expect from the shows?
Alex: We just started rehearsing and preparing for the tour. Iīm in my old hometown now. All the other guys live in Tønsberg, but Iīm living outside of Oslo. Weīre just working on all the new songs, because we wanna try them all on tour. Thatīs what we`re working on right now. We haven`t decided the setlist yet, but we know we gonna have some changes from day to day and try out different things. We`re still working on a lot of things. In this week there has been more or less just interviews during daytime and rehearsals in the evenings quite late until 10 o`clock.

Lea: Do you normally also meet every evening for rehearsals?
Alex: Well, at least more or less all weekdays until the tour.

Lea: I guess, old fave songs like “Dr. Online” and “Need You Like A Drug” will always be on the tour-setlist?
Alex: Yeah, they will. Some songs just work and there are some songs people want to hear. We just try to mix a setlist that works. We`re looking forward to play a full set, because then we can put in some of the quiet songs as well and of course also the harder ones. Then you get that kind of dynamic which we like. In festivals you have to do it as quick as possible, because you only have 35 or 50 minutes to play. Now we have all the time we want, so it`s gonna be alright.


Lea: So do you prefer playing smaller club-tours than on big festivals?
Alex: No, I enjoy playing wherever as long as the stage is not at the same level as the audience is. I think, it sucks when people can`t really see the band. I donīt mind if it`s a small club as long as the stage is pretty high, so that everybody can see the stage.


Lea: Cologne is missing on the upcoming tourplan, although we have this wonderful carnival time going on here at the moment. Don`t you like dressing up as a cowboy or clown?
Alex: I guess, we would have to do that when we were playing in Cologne. (laughs) I mean, we would love to play everywhere. Well, this is just the first part of the tour and I hope that we keep rolling the whole year. We`re longing to get back to Cologne, but dressing up? Well, dressing up is fun!


Lea: As today it`s the release date of your new album “Sinners International”, what will you do later on besides the rehearsals? Party, party, party or just hanging out with the family?
Alex: We`ll just have rehearsals. We always celebrate after the job is done. So we like to focus on what we do, focus on the tour, and when we get back home from tour, I think we gonna celebrate a little bit. But we never celebrate before. We like to focus on what we have to do and do that as best as we can.

Lea: Are you a little workaholic?
Alex: I guess so. (laughter)
Interview: Lea Sommerhäuser .[ phoner ]
Promo Alex: Sandra Dahl